Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Homemade vs. Pre-made: Basic Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is like whipped cream. Whenever I make whipped cream from scratch, I get all sorts of impressed expressions like, "Wow! Real whipped cream!" or "I wish I had the time to do stuff like that!".  I'm always torn between the prideful part of me that wants to look awesomely domestic and the side of me that is ever-eager to dispense any sort of knowledge (hence this blog). Usually I'll come clean and tell people how incredibly easy it was to make and how it only took a few minutes.

The same goes for cranberry sauce. People think it's fancy when you make your own, but, really, it's a cinch to make; it only takes around ten minutes hands-on time. I know that for some people (like my dad) Thanksgiving isn't quite Thanksgiving unless the cranberry sauce belches out of a can and has lines imprinted on it. To each his own. That said, the canned stuff does have high fructose corn syrup in it and I'm all for avoiding that stuff completely. And, as it is with most homemade foods, the from-scratch version tastes so much better than the canned kind.  There are a bunch of different recipes for homemade cranberry sauce (some use orange juice, some have sugar, some have maple syrup, some have oranges or pineapple added to it), but the recipe I'm sharing with you is a basic, whole-berry cranberry sauce.

So, do you want to impress your guests at Thanksgiving dinner? Here's how...

For this recipe (it yields around 2 cups of sauce), you'll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • One 12-oz. bag of cranberries

Rinse the cranberries in a colander. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar. Bring to a boil.

Once the sugar-water mixture is boiling, add the cranberries. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally.

This is my favorite part...

I can't quite explain why, but I like to watch the cranberries start to split (they get these fun lines and designs on them) and then pop. Yes, I am easily entertained.

Let the mixture boil gently for about ten minutes. By then, the cranberries have all burst and have broken down nicely.

Pour the cranberry sauce into a bowl, cover, and let it cool completely at room temperature. Don't worry if the sauce looks kind of soupy at this point -- as it cools, it will reduce and get firmer. It reminds me of jam -- as it cools it begins to set.

Once it has cooled, refrigerate the sauce until you're ready to serve it. Your family and friends will appreciate and admire your efforts. It's up to you whether or not you tell them how easy it was.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

{This post is linked up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.}


Angie said...

The first time I ever had real cranberry sauce was the first year I went to my husband's family's Thanksgiving. I thought I hated cranberries until I tried it. So glad I tried it, I love cranberries! Now we joke about how we have cranberry sauce with his family, and "canberry sauce" with mine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather said...

Canberry sauce -- that's funny! I may have to use that one...

Beth said...

I have always had homemade cranberry sauce around the holidays, now and then someone would bring out canned cranberry jelly, but I always knew it was the inferior alternative. For a while I didn't like it and found out it was because my mom always tried to cut back on the sugar, which made the taste extra bitter. This past holiday I tried adding a little ground cinnamon, and holy moly is it awesome. I'm pretty much the only one in my own family that appreciates cranberry sauce, so I still have some in a jam jar in the fridge from Christmas. Today I ate some on crackers with cream cheese. The cinnamon seems to remove all bitterness from the cranberries. I am going to make this my go-to jam alternative and see about decreasing the sugar a bit. Nom yummy! (About 1/4 tsp does the trick)

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